Suicide Squad Volume 2 The Nightshade Odyssey
Writers – John Ostrander, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Paul Kuppenberg, and Robert Greenberger
Artists – Luke McDonnell, Bob Lewis, Erik Larsen, Keith Giffen, Al Gordon, Malcolm Jones III, and Rob Liefeld
After finishing Suicide Squad: Trial by Fire, I decided to borrow Suicide Squad: The Nightshade Odyssey instantly from Hoopla to read about the next (mis)adventures of Task Force X.
The DC Universe at large was unaware of the existence of the Suicide Squad but in this volume, we see The Doom Patrol and Batman and the Justice League International mixing it up with Rick Flag and company.
Some of the missions in this volume feature Speedy and Vixen temporarily joining the Squad to try to put an end to the reign of an up-and-coming drug kingpin in Colombia and two separate search and rescue operations to save Hawk and Nemesis from imprisonment in Russia. Some of the missions are led by Bronze Tiger and Nightshade and it’s nice to see how they run the team instead of Rick Flag. Beloved characters Weasel and Javelin, used in the most recent The Suicide Squad movie, get their time to shine. This time, we see Ostrander use the War on Drugs and the Iran Contra scandal for some of the political threads in the missions and a cameo or two by President Ronald Reagan. Adding Speedy to the mission to stop cocaine trafficking is pure genius and a nice callback to his own struggle with drug use and redemption after getting clean and sober.
The Nightshade Odyssey, which comprises the last three issues of this volume, starts off promising but ends up taking a few turns and ends up becoming a bit weird and confusing with the inclusion of Shade the Changing Man. There is a plot point with Nightshade and her long-lost brother, Larry, that is gross and off putting and shouldn’t have been included or touched upon at all. I did like the fact that the Squad is sent to the Land of the Nightshades, a fantasy world full of demons and wizards because they are out of their usual element. The best part of the crossover was learning Enchantress’ origin and how it ties in with Nightshade’s backstory. It makes their previous established rivalry much more important.
My favorite mission was the Squad going behind Waller’s back to rescue Nemesis from Soviet imprisonment. Max Lord sends the Justice League International after them to bring them to justice, which doubles as a strategic PR move. It’s nice to see these new teams face off in battle as cooler heads try to prevail, using brains instead of brawn, to complete the mission. The MVP of this crossover is Dmitri Pushkin, the Rocket Red, who is part of the JLI. It makes me want to read up about the Rocket Reds. Speaking of, this second mission to Moscow was a nail biter once the People’s Heroes, Red Star, and Rocket Reds are called in to stop the prison break and apprehend America’s Finest Heroes.
Although I didn’t like the back half of this volume, the complex characterizations of the villains trying to be heroes and do good in the world still plays an important part to the overall story as they grow and mature as individuals. I like the core group of Suicide Squad members and the rotation of new characters to the roster, based on the mission parameters. My goal is to continue reading one volume of Suicide Squad a month until I complete Ostrander’s run, so look for my next review on Volume Three sometime in March.